Hearing scheduled Tuesday on bill on expanding DNA searches to closed cases

A bill that would expand DNA searches to closed cases is scheduled for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Room 346-S, in Topeka.

The bill, sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee, was supported by Sen. David Haley, D-4th Dist., and human rights activist Alvin Sykes. It also has support from the Innocence Project.

Sykes said the bill now has letters of support from Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree, Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Terry Zeigler and Cheryl Pilate, a defense attorney in some cases of wrongful incarceration.

Currently, according to the bill’s supporters, when DNA tests are run, the search passes over closed cases and looks for an open case to compare. But if the search includes closed cases, sometimes a match can be made where another person has already been convicted, according to the bill’s supporters, which raises questions about whether the right person is in prison.

If closed cases are excluded from the DNA searches, information that might exonerate individuals can be missed, according to supporters of the bill. A proposed change to the law would mandate notification for both closed and open cases.

The bill also calls for a closed case task force to develop protocols for a process to be implemented. The proposed task force would include legislators, governor’s office, attorney general, law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, indigents’ defense service, attorneys, victim services, and innocence organization litigators. The task force would submit its report by Dec. 1, 2020, under the proposed bill.

To see an earlier story on this bill, visit http://wyandottedaily.com/bill-backed-by-innocence-project-would-expand-dna-searches-to-closed-cases/
Senate Bill 102 is online at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/sb102/.

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Another bill in the Judiciary Committee concerning the wrongfully incarcerated is Senate Bill 106, which would allow the state to seek monetary damages from anyone who knowingly contributed to the wrongful conviction and imprisonment of a person, and also would allow criminal prosecution and ouster proceedings. If an individual were a law enforcement employee or a prosecutor for a county or city, and courts ordered that damages should be paid, it would be possible that the county or city would pay damages under the Tort Claims Act, and it is possible that some damages could be paid through the local government’s insurance coverage. The proposed bill, which is in the Judiciary Committee, also would make it possible to seek to recover damages from non-government employees who contributed to wrongful convictions. A hearing was not scheduled on this bill. The bill is online at http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2019_20/measures/sb106/.

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